Ducati Superbike 1199 Will Have LED Headlight

06/30/2011 @ 10:48 am, by Jensen Beeler19 COMMENTS

After seeing the front fairing of the new 2012 Ducati Superbike 1199 last week, we idly speculated that the design included an LED (light-emitting diode) headlamp, as no bulbs or projector assemblies could be seen in the housing. Another tip-off were the slats in the headlight housing, which can readily be seen, and look very similar to the setup used by Audi on its R18 TDI Le Mans race car. Getting a few tips from our loyal readers, and following up with several of our sources, we can confirm that the new Ducati Superbike 1199 will use a completely LED-based headlight system — the first production motorcycle to use such an assembly.

There are several advantages for Ducati to switch to an LED system, with the biggest three being size, energy, and heat. LEDs are super efficient, and can produce a similar amount of light for a fraction of the energy used in halogen bulbs, with virtually none of the heat (RSV4 owners take note). While that factoid has the geek factor, what’s perhaps the most relevant to motorcycles is the size factor. LEDs don’t require bulky ballasts like HID systems, and they don’t require large and heavy housings like the more commonplace halogen systems.

Instead, it is a simple matter of setting up the circuit to the light-emitting diode (this actually isn’t that simple from a technical point-of-view), and securing the directional light source with the right vector. This makes the Superbike 1199’s headlight assembly not only super-compact (we hear it’s about an inch thick), but also super-light (less mass than two cups of espresso and one gelato — stracciatella if it makes a difference). If you were wonder how the 1199 lost 20 lbs over the 1198, this would be just one of many major areas where the bikes can trim some fat (the lack of a traditional frame probably helps too).

The issue with LEDs has always been the output in lumens, and the fact that LEDs only emit one frequency of light, making true-white LEDs virtually impossible (true white light is a mixture of all light frequencies). While there’s been some interesting research in that latter issue, which goes way beyond the scope of this article, the light output from LEDs has increased in leaps and bounds over the past 10 years, with prices dropping dramatically as well. With companies like Audi proving the technology under the rigors of the race track, we stand on the verge of major OEM adoption of LED headlights in the car industry, and with this news see Ducati being the first-mover in the motorcycle industry. Neat stuff, and better yet, no Bothans were injured while collecting this report.

  • buellracerx

    only a matter of time before volume drove cost down enough to make this feasible. weight, I could see being the biggest factor; energy not so much (30W~.04-.05hp)

    looking forward to seeing what kind of bling factor this brings the new flagship duc

  • If you’re Benelli the reduced energy draw from the alternator could be a big improvement…oh there I go again…

  • Odie

    Actually, I think that 30w is way high. A normal automotive halogen bulb only pulls 50w or so.

  • Giova

    I think, the MV Agusta F4 already has the LED lights. Ducati is not the fist in motorcycles to do it.

  • RSVDan

    MV’s use a projector with LED running lights.

  • 76

    Really happy to see this move to full LED from a major player, this impacts the front facia greatly as to the size and how small the footprint of the headlamps need to be. Styling wise it provides much greater flexibility and packaging wise becomes much more effective and efficient, way to go Ducati

  • hoyt

    This opens the door for a lot of original styling for both naked and faired bikes

  • Yup, lot’s of bikes have LED markers, parking lights, and LED accents, but none have a true full-blown LED headlamp.

  • smiffy

    The new KTM RC8 has LED headlights…not sure if they’re only running lights though.

  • smiffy

    The article talks about the 1199 but the photo shows the 848 evo….does that mean they get the LED set up too??

  • i’m waiting for LED ZEPPELIN headlamps on motorcycles.

    now THAT will be cool ;-)

  • RSVDan

    Get back in yer corner, John.

  • When the middleweight Superbike gets updated, I’m sure they’ll have LED headlights. That picture is to show the current projector setup on the Ducatis. There was no 1198 version.

  • smiffy

    Jensen what do you mean there was no 1198 version?


  • Of the photo (a good projector headlight shot) in Ducati’s official press kit.

  • Jeram

    wont be long until the traditional round headlight is gone and replace with strips of LED’s or other stylish placements.

    I think it would be marvelous to have fully functioning strips on LEDs on the fork tubes of a naked bike… allowing full veiw of the triple clamps and frame headstock.

  • Greg

    I have LED headlights on my streetfighter. They are vision-x solstice lights. Definitely brighter and more noticeable than the factory halogen. And they draw almost no current. Its about time somebody did this from the factory.

  • I wonder just how many lumens these LED light stick out?

  • Scott Campbell

    The article did not state the most important aspect of LED headlights is safety. Both LED headlights and HID headlights produce 3 times the Lumens(brightness) vs halogen headlights. Halogen headlight dirty T shirt yellow lumens are in the 700-1200 range. LED headlights and HID headlights are in the 3500 lumen range. They also produce a 5000 kelvin color which is more like daylight which are eyes are accustom.